You Made Your Decision, Now Stop Bitching

From time to time, I serve on peer advisory boards, whether formally or informally convened. Last week was one such occasion.

During the course of discussion, the owner of the company under review (we’ll call him “Bill”) was speaking about a project his company had recently undertaken.  He began the meeting by describing his reluctance to take the project, the reasons for his reluctance, and his constant concern that his fears would ultimately be borne out.

Fifteen minutes into the conversation, I interrupted with a question: “can you get out?” Bill shook his head “no.” Worse, when he did it, he had that slow, hangdog look designed to communicate impending doom. I never got to ask my follow-up.

Bill’s head had barely finished moving when one of my colleagues spoke up.  “Then quit your bitchin’!” It wasn’t said softly either. Missing was that normal conference room hush that often characterizes these types of discussions. There was no finesse here.

The thing is, my friend was right. Further discussion was absolutely unnecessary. Bill’s past reservations didn’t matter. He couldn’t get out of the contract – not without serious damage to his reputation and bank account anyway – so all that was left was a decision:  Was he going to whine and drag his feet or was he going to bring his A-game?

It’s amazing how much time we, as leaders and business owners, spend on unproductive reflection. If the retrospective serves a purpose, fine. Use it to learn how to avoid such situations in the future. But if the only purpose to plowing that ground is to wallow, then quit your bitching. You made a decision – whether that decision was to undertake a project, hire an employee, or sign off on some initiative. Your only legitimate concern now is execution.

Save the bitching for someone else. You have work to do.

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